Will You Be My Executor?

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Passare.com shutterstock 270607577.jpgexecutorwillyou Will You Be My Executor? tax returns several factors insurance policies fiduciary relationship assets

Have you ever been asked to be an Executor? Are you waiting to be asked the “big question”? Do you realize the commitment, loyalty and responsibility it takes to be an Executor? Chances are, you have yet to be an administrator of a loved one’s Will or Estate Plan.

Is being an Executor the right choice for you?

Making the choice to be an Executor is really up to you. Before you take on the responsibility of being the appointed Executor of a Will or Estate Plan make sure you know what you’re getting into.
As an Executor you are generally compensated for your time and efforts. At the same time, if you make a mistake you may be held personally liable. That’s why you also need a competent attorney if you agree to serve in this role. Committing to be an Executor is not a decision to be taken lightly.

?How big is the job as an Executor?

The size of the job depends on several factors:

  • How much property is involved?
  • How long the process is likely to take?
  • Whether there might be parties who question your decision.
  • Whether there are special considerations such as the care of under-age children or incapacitated parties.

As a Fiduciary (the Executor is in a Fiduciary relationship with the Beneficiary), you may be required to:

  • File a Will with the court to start the probate process.
  • Locate and take control of assets.
  • Run a business or hire a manger.
  • Assume responsibility for the care of children or incapacitated parties.
  • Pay debts and collect proceeds of insurance policies.
  • Sell assets not used and reinvest the assets wisely.
  • File tax returns and prepare accountings for the probate process.
  • Distribute the assets to the Beneficiaries.

If you agree to serve in one of these roles, make sure to hire an attorney. The Estate you’re serving will cover that expense and having an attorney will keep you from breaching any number of fiduciary duties the court might hold you to.

?What are the most desirable qualities in an Executor?

  • Perseverance is the key in dealing with bills (especially the hospital, Medicare, ambulance and doctor charges incurred if there was an illness). These often require a lot of paperwork, and payment first, then reimbursement from insurance companies.
  • You must have the time and inclination to deal with bureaucrats and forms. You may also have to cope with relatives who may be wondering why it’s taking so long to receive their inheritance, or why their bequests are smaller than they expected. This can happen if, for example, the money of the decedent was aggressively invested in the stock market, and those stocks nose-dived after they wrote the Will.
  • You have to be resourceful and competent to hire a CPA and-or lawyer to handle tax returns and income tax returns for income accrued before the death, Estate tax returns as well as Estate income tax returns for income taxes incurred after the death.
  • As an Executor you may also have to find and hire an investment advisor, particularly if the value of the Estate has changed substantially because of changes in the market.
  • An Executor cannot be a minor, convicted felon, or a non-U.S. citizen.

Note: While all states allow nonresidents to act as executors, some require a nonresident to be a primary beneficiary or close relative; others require a surety bond or that the out-of-state executor engage a resident to act as his or her representative.

Do you have what it takes to be an Executor?

6 Responses to “Will You Be My Executor?”

  1. […] Making the choice to be an Executor is really up to you. Before you take on the responsibility of being the appointed Executor of a Will or Estate Plan make sure you know what you’re getting into.  […]

  2. My mom is 86 with rapidly advancing dementia, no st memory I need to find person in th the state of FL so I don’t ever have to depend on B….. sister, she doesn’t to do it anyway… My mom wants this also, I’m her ft caregiver, she wants for nothiing, I want her to as autonomous as she can be and work om keep her strong. I just need someone to disburse funds from an existing trust. Where do I look, i’m in PBC, have worked in the legal field,but have nobody

    • Paula, thank you for your comment. As with all progressive ailments, it is important to act sooner rather than later. Once your mom loses mental capacity, her ability to determine her own fate erodes, and a court supervised conservatorship would be required. If she has capacity now, she can appoint an agent to act of her behalf, with a Durable Power of Attorney. This agent could then make medical and financial decisions for her.

      You mention there is an existing trust. If there is an existing trust, there is an existing trustee for that trust. If that trustee resigns, the trust may specify who the next trustee in line is. Otherwise, you could petition the court to have a trustee of the trust appointed. The trustee can then disburse the trust funds according to the terms of the trust.

      As for how to find a good lawyer, that is always a tricky question. If other family and trusted friends do not have any recommendations for you, there are websites like Yelp.com and Avvo.com where people can leave feedback, and you can search for one with good feedback in your area. Otherwise, almost every county has a bar association that maintains a list of lawyers by practice area. Most will offer a free initial consultation, so we recommend you meet with a few attorneys and pick the one you feel best suits your needs.

      I hope this helps, good luck! Robert Shepard

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